Indigenous People in Asia

by on 週二, 10 十月 2006 評論
When the term of “Indigenous people” is used in the context of Taiwan, Canada, Australia, United States and several other countries, one refers to people who, in human’s history, were the first inhabitants of a place and have been deprived of their territory and often of their culture and language.

In other contexts, for instance in China, one will rather speak of “ethnic minorities” or ‘native people”: the stress is here on ethnic or cultural groups who are often a tiny minority in a settlement, the history of which remains unclear: who exactly arrived first, how did migrations occur, how did different people intermingle? Often, the difference does not matter so much: ethnic minorities all encounter life-threatening challenges.

Of course, the whole human history is one of migrations and ethnic alliances, so there is certainly not “pure” aboriginal population in the world. However, the survival of people whose language, culture and territory has been gravely threatened by colonization or, nowadays, globalization, is a common concern for humankind. First, the variety of our cultures is a treasure that we all share and which is to be preserved. Second, cultural alienation, deprivation of land ownership and linguistic assimilation often make people psychologically dispossessed and unhappy. We all know that aboriginal population often suffer of low self-esteem that translates into alcoholism, and other social ills. It is not only the mere survival of minority populations which is at stake, the question of helping them to find a sustainable development model is at least as important.

Renlai monthly periodically explores various human and social situations, respectively in Taiwan, China and the rest of Asia. We do not want to cover the whole field but we want to tell stories of struggle, hope, inventiveness and encounters. We want to give a human face to the global problem of aboriginal population. Men and women interact and understand each other through the sharing of stories. When aboriginal people share with us their memories and hopes, their destiny become ours - and our own destiny cannot be conceived without their fears and dreams receiving an answer.

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